In the midst of their final week of OTAs, the Seahawks returned to the field on Tuesday for their eighth session at the VMAC. Without any 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 reps pitting the offense against the defense, it was a rather uneventful, brief practice.
However, there were still some noteworthy moments, including the arrival of Russell Wilson and a pair of injured players returning to the field after rehabbing knee injuries. Here are four quick observations from Tuesday's practice.
1. While Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and DK Metcalf were present, several big-name veterans remained M.I.A. for the Seahawks.
After having less than 40 players participating in the first six OTA sessions in what ultimately functioned as an extension of rookie minicamp, Wilson, Wagner, and Metcalf headlined a large group of veterans who returned for the final week of voluntary work before mandatory minicamp. There was a sense of normalcy in the air at the VMAC with Wilson slinging passes downfield to Metcalf, Wagner coaching up younger linebackers and refusing to call them by their name, and recently-extended Poona Ford leading the way during defensive line drills.
But while players such as Wilson and Wagner ended their offseason boycotts, several notable stars still remained absent. Most notably, both of Seattle's starting safeties - Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs - weren't in attendance, while mainstays such as tackle Duane Brown, running back Chris Carson, and receiver Tyler Lockett still hadn't reported either. Even tight end Gerald Everett, who signed a one-year contract in March, wasn't at the facility. Per Metcalf, however, several of those players should be arriving soon and could be on hand for the last two OTAs to close out this week.
2. Close to fully recovered from an ACL tear, Marquise Blair returned to the field for the first time since last September.
Nearly nine months after his leg buckled as a result of an inadvertent hit by linebacker K.J. Wright on a tackle attempt and his season ended with a torn ACL, Blair was back in action and participated in all of Seattle's drill work with defensive backs on Tuesday. Though OTAs don't come close to replicating actual training camp practices and more stringent tests for his surgically-repaired knee will be coming in the future, he didn't seem hindered at all, backpedaling and transitioning in and out of breaks with ease. He also made several nice interceptions during one-on-ones, flashing the turnover skills that made him a star in camp a year ago.
Looking healthy and spry, Blair's fluidity changing directions is a positive sign for both the player and the team in regard to the health of his knee, as he should be 100 percent ready to go when camp opens in late July. He will once again compete against Ugo Amadi for the starting nickel corner role while continuing to see snaps at both safety spots behind Adams and Diggs.
3. Multiple offseason additions made their practice debuts for the Seahawks, including a now-healthy Ahkello Witherspoon.
With the majority of veterans staying away from voluntary workouts up to this point, most of Seattle's marquee additions in free agency had yet to take the field for their new team. But that changed on Tuesday, starting with Witherspoon returning to practice after rehabbing from a minor knee procedure. The tall, lengthy cornerback looked every bit of 6-foot-3 next to his new teammates and made up ground quickly during coverage drills thanks to a long, galloping stride. It's far too early to know who will start at the two corner spots for Seattle, but given his ideal size and intriguing ball skills, it would be a surprise if he's not one of the favorites after signing a one-year, $4 million deal in March.
Aside from Witherspoon, defensive end Kerry Hyder made his Seahawks debut wearing No. 51, cornerback Pierre Desir was sporting No. 35, and veteran guard Gabe Jackson, who was acquired from the Raiders for a fifth-round pick, wore No. 65. Additionally, Robert Nkemdiche made his first appearance as a Seahawk and with Bryan Mone switching to No. 90, the former first-round pick donned No. 92.
4. A few notable players were sidelined and did not participate, though any injuries haven't been disclosed by the team.
Most of the players in attendance participated in at least limited form on Tuesday, but the Seahawks did hold out second-round pick D'Wayne Eskridge and running back Rashaad Penny for unknown reasons. Both players were in uniform, but neither took part in drill work and didn't have their helmets. This time of year, teams are especially cautious when players have soft tissue injuries, so neither injury should sound an alarm and being sidelined in June isn't a big deal. Further updates should become available when coach Pete Carroll speaks with the media to close out OTAs on Thursday.